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US: Hospital M&A bill combats FTC’s ‘double jeopardy’ issue

 |  September 11, 2014

A new bill is being considered in Congress that aims to streamline mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare industry, and the nation’s American Hospital Association has just handed its support to the legislation.

The bill, named the Standard Merger and Acquisitions Reviews Through Equal Rules Act, or SMARTER, would amend two rules currently used by antitrust watchdogs to review merger cases. One major effect of the bill would address the Federal Trade Commission’s ability to use internal processes to review a merger, unlike the Department of Justice. .

”Hospitals, in particular, have been adversely impacted by the ability o the FTC to use its own internal administrative process to challenge a transaction,” the AHA wrote to the Committee on the Judiciary states. “Specifically, while the DOJ litigates its merger cases entirely in federal court before an impartial judge, the FTC has used the difference in authority between the two federal antitrust agencies to subject hospital transactions to what amounts to double jeopardy.”

That “double jeopardy” refers to the possibility of hospital mergers being subject to both injunctions and litigation, say reports.

The AHA is also reportedly asking lawmakers to include a provision that would require the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to issue a closing statement for unchallenged mergers.

The bill is currently with the House of Representatives and was introduced earlier this week.

Full content: EHR Intelligence

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